Switches for Alternative Access

What if my child or family member can’t touch the screen directly, and they can’t use a stylus- even the cool adaptive ones? There are several other ways to access tablets and devices, including switches. These switches take advantage of built-in programming that moves a cursor around the screen; then, when the desired button is highlighted, the user clicks to “select” on the screen. Switches can also be used to activate switch accessible toys or switch accessible apps on a tablet.

Switches can be placed and activated using a wide range of body parts and movements with varying degrees of pressure. So someone that has large movements can swing their forearm to activate a wobble switch. A jelly button can be placed on a table top, wheelchair tray or mount and pressed with a hand or a foot. The smaller Buddy buttons can be positioned next to a knee or a user’s head and will activate with a lighter touch. If that requires too much movement or pressure, there are proximity sensors such as the Candy Corn which will activate if you get within range, about half an inch or so.

Wobble Switch
Jelly Button
Candy Corn

For users that may need even more specific movements, there are wearable switches like NeuroNode that will measure small muscle movements like a twitch, blink, squeeze, or twist of the wrist (https://enablingdevices.com/product-category/switches/). If the client is already familiar with using a sip and puff or joystick system to control their wheelchair, these switches can also be used to devices as well.

Sip and Puff
Joystick System

You may not be able to plug in these switches directly into your tablet or device, so you may look for a Bluetooth switch or a switch interface that plugs into the switch and controls the tablet, device, or environment via Bluetooth.

Bluetooth Switch
Switch Interface

If you are interested in learning more about how switches can be used to help your loved one, contact us at BridgingApps@eastersealshouston.org.